Lucinda Elliot

Review of ‘When the Moon Whispers’ by Rebecca Lochlann: Brilliant and Dramatic

I was immediately drawn into this epic series, by the first book, which takes place in Bronze Age Greece. I was entranced by the unusual combination of outstanding historical research, excellent writing style, intriguing characters and exciting theme. Since then, and I have been eagerly following the progress of this saga of a battle between the forces of matriarchy and patriarchy.
I was looking forward to this latest, which clearly was going to have the definitiveclash between the protagonists. I am happy to say that it brings the underlying conflict of the earlier books to an explosive, harrowing, cathartic and satisfying conclusion.
I wrote of the ending of the third book in the Greek part of the series, ‘In the Moon of Asterion’ that the climatic ending there was ‘like a series of fireworks set off’. That if even more true in this one. I anticipate, but want to assure the reader that she or he won’t be disappointed.
Back in Bronze Age Crete, the patriarchal invader, the hubristic and swaggeringly macho Prince of Mycenae Chrysaleon, was given the choice between joining the matriarchal Queen Aridela in progressing humanity’s future towards peace and co-operation between male and female, or defying the will of the Goddess Athene and playing a key part in plunging it into suffering, conflict and the oppression of woman.
He was too obsessed with power to be able to resist the latter course. Aided by his determined toady, the magically skilled Alixaire,he schemed to overthrow female rule in Crete. The youthful and gullible Aridela allowed herself to be blinded by her infatuation with him into falling for his schemes. Though drawn by her equally strong feelings for his illegitimate half-brother Menoetius – who inherited faith in the Goddess religion from his sorceress mother – Aridela allows herself to stay oblivious to Chrysaleon’s devious schemes, fired by his underlying contempt for all women but herself. She choses him above Menoetius, as the austure warrior, terribly scarred from a savaging by a lion, could not rival Chrysaleon’s appeal for a young girl.
Certainly, the two half-brothers were strangely linked even before birth, seemingly conceived in tandem on the same night, with hints of some form of sorcery by Menoetius’ s mother, and born during a terrible thunder storm. Sometimes they seem like two falsely opposing halves of one coin:
“She used the holy mushroom, that which priestesses call cara. She dried it, ground it up, and mixed it into the barley cake Idómeneus shared with his queen every evening. Deep in the night, she slipped into their bed and woke them with kisses. Idómeneus bragged about it.He said his queen awakened him desiring love, and that Sorcha joined them; though the queen hated her and wanted her dead, that night she kissed Sorcha, and both women together pleasured him. He laughed about it, and said he wasn’t sure if it was real…’
This linked fate is a theme that will repeat itself constantly through the incarnations through which these three must pass as reincarnations of these three original personalities.Athene has willed that history, propelled on its way by the mistaken decisions of these three initiators, must now follow its course until they all embrace their true destiny.
Chrysaleon and Alistaire, who in ancient Crete killed Aridela, Menoetius and Selene, Aridela’s Amazonian warrior protector, were cursed by Athene through Selene and Aridela’s late father, Damesen: ‘Betrayal cannot come from nothing…It weaves backward and forward, in and out of the thread of life and death, of faith and love, envy and desire. This future will only come to pass if the child is first deceived by those to whom she gives her trust.’
‘You and your master shall wander. Glimpses of joy shall be ripped from you. You will beg for death, but death will refuse you. You will follow…and follow without end.’
‘You have set this world upon its path, and so you will live it. You will watch it unfold, and you alone will remember everything that you have done. Until you honour your vow, you will carry the burden of your deceptions, and they will grow heavy.’
Through seven lives, the reincarnated Chrysaleon sets himself against Athene and female power. Through many lifetimes he furthers the repression against it and schemes, always opposed by the former Menoetius. Always, he is drawn to the former Aridela. She always remains, as the goddess decrees, unable to see his basic contempt for women. Neither she, nor Menoetius, are granted memories of their previous lives. While memories of their previous existence and the role of Athene in their fate seems to give Chrysaleon and Alixaire, besides mental torture and advantage, he has never, as predicted, succeeded in finding happiness, while the servile Alixaire has always followed Chrystaleon ‘like a wrinkled gnome’, furthering his aims to the point of murder.
Others join in this epic struggle. Themiste, the once oracle of Crete, must make up for her former cowardice in not admitting her own part in Chrysaleon’s betrayal. The reincarnated bodyguard Selene has never wavered in her courage and dedication to Athene.
Another individual joins them in every life. The sadistic once Prince of Tyre, Harpalycus, uses black magic to shift from body to body and to add misery and suffering to the world in general, and Athene’s three chosen instruments in particular.
This latest – penultimate, but largely climatic – episode of the saga takes place in a dystopian society fifty years in the future. The former Chrysaleon is now Raphael Konstantinou, a close advisor of the US president. Though he only regains his memory belatedly in this lifetime, he is has obviously been driven by unconscious memories to further his goal of destroying female power. Now, heis near to succeeding.
This is not all his own doing; he has been aided in this by the now President Novikov of the all powerful coalition of Ukrus, who through the use of secret weapons, has intimidated the former western world – save for a few ‘independent territories’ into falling in with his plans for world domination, and the total subjugation of women. In fact, Novikov takes his plans for the destruction of female independence further than Raphael Konstantinou ever intended, and such is his power that he cannot be opposed.
The once Queen in her own right, Aridela is in this lifetime Rafe’s compliant wife Erin– with the help of a little mood calming from pills. Even with those, Erin finds it hard to accept the controlling ways of her mother-in-law from Hades –Cordelia (who unlike the Cordelia in ‘King Lear’ does not stand up to an overbearing patriarch). They have a daughter. A terrible form of lunacy has unaccountably started attacking all women. Erin, as Rafe’s wife, is involved in the campaign to persuade them to surrender themselves to quarantine.
But then, something happens which causes her to flee her palatial home. Wandering dazed after a car crash, she runs into Rafe’s detested younger brother, Will, now living an almost hermit like existence in a cabin in the woods about Mount Sneffles. Erin finds herself unable to go back, for all that she desperately misses her daughter, and stays away for over twenty years.
When circumstances beyond her control force her to return – by means of some hideous experiences – it is to a terrible USA ruled by a grotesquely distorted form of evangelical Christianity. Erin is staggered. Somehow, she must fight this. But how, as one woman against the world? Aided by visits to the artefacts from Ancient Greece which Rafe seems almost compelled to collect, Erin’s memories begin to return, and even as she begins to realise the extent of Rafe/Chrysaleon’s treachery through the ages, she also understands that she is not alone.
But the path ahead is hard, ‘harder than you can imagine.’ Before Erin the ‘housefrau’ can become Erin the Erinyes, she must suffer abuse of every sort, and terrible bereavement: only then caqn she attempt to fulfil the role given to her by the Goddess Athene. Through the enslaved US of a dystopian future, through Crete, through Scotland, through struggles on the astral plane, ErinThe Erinyes, and other champions of Athene – fight against this new, dystopic world order. They fight apathy and hostility from women, assassins, killings, grief and brainwashing attempts. Just as in their former lives there were many betrayals, echoes of those of the Bronze Age, so there are in this one. Even the truth of Chrysaleon’s repeated oath, that he would love Aridela, ‘For as long as the pyramids stand in Egypt’ acquires ironic emphasis in this battle.
This epic struggle and transformative process will finally take Erin to the strangest of worlds: ‘The air moved through my hair like a sigh. The heavens above us resembled a wet watercolour. The sand was silky and lustrous, like lights were shining underneath.’
I regard ‘The Child of the Erinyes’ as a unique achievement. This book, which resolves many of the issues created by the original series of faulty decisions on the part of the protagonists and other characters, fulfils the promise of the escalating tension inthe other novels.
In this lifetime, too, the once Aridela, Chrysaleon and Menoetius most resemble their old selves physically – which emphasizes the huge chasm between what they once were, and what they have become.
Followers of the series will have noted the enjoyable humorous touches the author inserts. One of these is that in his return in this life, the wrinkled old slave Alexaire is now a woman, who desires the former Chrysaleon as much as ever…
Finally, I’d like to say that I feel smug about foreseeing the outcome of one of these age-old conflict of loyalties, but I won’t put any more, as I don’t want to write a spoiler.

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